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May 14, 2002 08:42 AM

Distinguishing Coke vs Pepsi (or any 2 similar tastes)

  • h

"Experts" generally claim to be able to distinguish between "things that might look or seem similar but which are not". And/or, people believe they can.

The classic example is probably the ability to distinguish between, say, 2 wines; more generally, between Recipe X cooked well, and Recipe X cooked not so well.

But do you know how to measure that claim?

Suppose your friend says "I can distinguish between Coke and Pepsi". How would you show that that claim is true, or false?

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  1. Very simple, use a double blind test. Place Coke in one cup, Pepsi in another, labelling the cups as say 1 and 2, corresponding to each cola.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Alan H

      Just to clarify, it's called a blind tasting, not a double blind test. A double blind test is a scientific method in which the subjects and the observers are blind to the experimental and control groups.

      And by the way, coke usually has a slightly bitter or sour finish, while pepsi has a sweeter finish. I prefer RC cola.

      1. re: Eric Eto

        actually, couldn't you do a double-blind test where the _tester_ doesn't know which one is which, either? so he couldn't influence the results? This is how they made us do the taste tests for science projects in grade school.

      2. re: Alan H many of those blind taste-tests must the taster get right?

        It's very interesting to me that you're apparently the only person here, so far, who actually gave a direct, on-point answer to my question!

        1. re: Howard-2

          Thanks Howard, I pride myself on my ability to read :)
          Actually, the non-answer responses are a pet peeve of mine. As for the question at hand-- obviously the more "trials" the more accurate the results. If your friend can get it right 4 or 5 times in a row, I'd say you've got to give him his due.

          1. re: Alan H

            I think its actually called "The Pepsi Challenge" (double blind or no)

            I've been told that pepsi set up the challenge because when tasters are given a small amount of soda to taste, they will invariably pick the sweeter one (i.e. Pepsi). So they essentially engineered their "blind" tasting so that they will win.

            If the taster was allowed to drink more of the soda, they would notice that Pepsi is overly and one-dimensionally sweet. I don't like soda in general, but prefer coke because it has more of a carmelly bitterness that counters the sweetness a bit.

            1. re: Dan

              There is a reason Coke tastes like it does, it started out as medicine and still tastes like one...yuck.

              1. re: Maria

                I guess it's too bad they took out all the medicinal qualities.

                1. re: the rogue

                  Which would essentially be the cocaine. There were certainly some very interesting "medicines" floating about during the 19th century!

          2. re: Howard-2

            Please note that here on Chowhound, we entreat our users not to change subject titles unless there has been a serious drift in the subject of the thread. While we know it's standard paractice in many forums to frequently change subject titles to reflect your reponse, that doesn't work very well with our setup, and ask you to leave the title and keep the content of your message inside your post. Many regulars here use Hot Posts (link on the main page) which doesn't provide a hierarchy for threads, so they appreciate titles that indicate what the post's about. Also, unrelated titles complicate future searches.

            Thanks, and back to the chow!

            1. re: Howard-2

              I started to reply without noticing that this discussion was over 9 years ago -- someone else's reply brought it to the main page. But since I typed this out anyway...

              In scientific studies, you calculate the probability of a result being due to random chance. This is called a "p-value" (probability) As long as that p-value is below a certain level (called the significance level), we can reject the null-hypothesis and accept the claim.

              Basically, this means that the more subjects in your test, or the more you repeat your tests, the less likely it is that the results are due to chance. Calculating a level of significance and a p-value is highly dependent on how many subjects, what kind of information they have going into the test, and how many trials they run.

          3. Supposedly, the flavor differences to look for are that Coke has a vanilla overtone, while Pepsi has a lime or citrusy overtone.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Karl S.

              Coke tastes cinnamony, and is less sweet than Pepsi.

              1. re: ironmom

                This must be like that wine thing. I think coke tastes sweeter than pepsi. I agree with the vanilla overtones in coke and sort of fake citrus taste in pepsi.

            2. Coke has a bite, a somewhat spicy sensation, to it. Pepsi is sweeter and smoother. Coke goes better with lemon. Pepsi, because of its sweetness, is less compatible with lemon. Both companies make too much money for selling flavored water.

              2 Replies
              1. re: EatDrinkMan

                I agree, and that "bite" is why I will always prefer Coke to Pepsi. If a place only has Pepsi, I won't even bother--I'll have a 7Up or something else.

                1. re: Stephanie L.

                  I think also that Coke has a gas-inducing effect of a lower degree than Pepsi. With a Coke, you can probably let the gas escape in silent portions. With a Pepsi, my experience is that the gas builds up instantly and to such a massive degree that your belch can rival that of a beer's. Please keep this in mind when you're on a date - no Pepsi. Save it for after the wedding.

              2. I prefer Pepsi to Coke, and can always tell the difference.

                Same thing with those artificial sweeteners, there is always an after taste that is unmistakable to me.

                1. Personally I dislike all colas and most soda in general. The only ones I have on rare occasions are a spicy ginger ale or a high quality root beer, birch beer, or sarsparilla. All the rest taste like chemically treated and sweetened syrup water with annoying bubbles that make you burb and sting your throat. I just don't get soda to tell you the truth. I used to brew my own from scratch or concentrates and these are great but more like a sort of spiced non-alcoholic beer.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: the rogue

                    My general response to commercial soda is twofold: yuck and "A buck for a can of sugarwater?"

                    But Rogue, howabout a new thread on how you made your own soda? Did you make your own rootbeer?